Sun, May

Photo and video assignment: Food photography

Camera Club

Focus on the composition rules to create great food images.

By Jason Lewis

There’s a boatload of food photography videos, and it was hard to find one that covers everything.  So watch as many of them as you can.  The link below will take you to Youtube’s food photography videos.


Two videos stuck out to me.  These videos aren’t so much tutorials, but they can give you some ideas.  The first video is a collage of photos that people took.  The second video are more artistic/abstract photos of food.   




You can also checkout a ton of photos from a Google search on food photography.  Link below.


Food photography is pretty incredible.  We all love to eat, we love the visuals of food, and with social media, we’re always seeing amazing shots of food.  And seeing that we all eat multiple times a day and food surrounds of throughout the day, you’ll have a number of opportunities on a daily basis to work on this assignment.

I say it often, we don’t want to be point and shoot photographers.  We don’t want to just have a seat next to our dinner plate and point the camera in the direction of the food.  That’s going to produce some boring images.  Remember to use the composition rules.  So far we’ve discussed negative space, filling the frame, and changing the perspective.  There’s also the rule of thirds, and you can play around with the aperture to change the depth of field.

Food photography isn’t only about shooting your meal.  There’s so many different ways to do this assignment.  You can shoot food that’s being stored somewhere, that’s being cooked, beverages.  You can get artistic and create scenes that involve food.  You can take photos who make or sell the food.

If you’re at home, using natural light is awesome, so place your food close to a window.  The typical angles are 45 degrees, overhead, and at the level of the food.

With mobile phone food photography, good lighting is extremely important.  Mobile phones tend to do very well in good lighting conditions, but not so well in poor lighting conditions.  Using the flash typically doesn't improve the quality of the photo.  When there is a lot of natural light (outdoors or indoors), you'll be able to get a lot of great images of food.  But at a restaurant, or at home in the evening, it can be very tough to get good images when dealing with fluorescent light.  DSLR cameras will perform much better because you can control the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.  There are apps for mobile phones that can help a lot in low light situations.


Below are photos that I’ve taken (unless noted).  

Photo was taken with a large aperture to focus on the details of one portion of the sandwich.  Camera is at about the level of the sandwich, and the wall was used as the background.  If the photo was taken on the other side, the clutter from the kitchen would have affected the negative space.  The sandwich also fills the frame. Photo taken at The Sammiche Shoppe is downtown Inglewood

Filling the frame, which could mean focusing on the batch of fruit, or just one.

This photo is not as close as the first sandwich photo.  I backed out on this so that the oils, salt and pepper, and condiment containers would be present in the negative space.  I used a large aperture to slightly blur those containers so that the focus would be on the sandwich.  The containers simply help tell the story without being the focal point of the picture.  Photo taken at Brooklyn Deli on Crenshaw Blvd., in Leimert Park.

Photo is taken at about a 45 degree angle, and the meal fills the frame.  By filling the frame, the details of the food pops out at the focal point.  Photo taken at Grilled Fraiche on Slauson Ave. and West Blvd.

Photo was taken with a large aperture, partially because the lighting was poor, and partially to single out one piece of food.  Photo taken at Dorsey High School.

Photo taken at Worldwide Taco.

Photo taken at Jackfruit Cafe.

Low angle (slightly below the subject) and I wanted "Stronger together" in the negative space.  Photo taken at Hank's Mini Market.

This is a photo taken of me, taking a picture of the photo above this one.  Photo taken at the Crenshaw Farmers' Market.

The subject is the plate, while the bread is used in the negative space.  Photo taken at the Crenshaw Farmers' Market.

Photo taken at the Crenshaw Farmers' Market

Beverages can also be a part of this assignment.

People preparing or selling food works.  Photo taken at Coliseum Street Elementary School

 Photo taken at Hot and Cool Cafe in Leimert Park.

Objects used to make food works.


With cell phone photos, follow the composition rules and you'll get some great images.  The photos below are taking with an iPhone.

Filling the frame, low angle. Photo taken at Post and Beam at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

I wanted the star in the negative space to show where the photo was taken.

My camera bag.

My guilty pleasure is the McRib.  For this photo, I cleared off the table so that nothing is in the negative space, and I wanted one of the boxes closed so that I could get the McRib sign in the photo.


Artistic photos

Edward Weston


Andre Kertesz


Josef Sudek


Amandine Ihyver